9.5 Planning, Flexibility and Responsibility

The article first appeared on the Skate Canada website and you can learn more about the Funds at skatecanada.ca/donate.

A few months ago, I received a package from Skate Canada Archivist Emery Leger. Inside was a stack of speeches my father David Dore made in the 1980s and 1990s. My father was the Director General of Skate Canada and then Vice-President of the International Skating Union (ISU). He was first known as a great public speaker during his time at Skate Canada, who was able to clearly communicate his direction of the sport in this country. Through strong leadership, my father had a vision of what could be accomplished. There was a common thread throughout these speeches; he continually outlined three elements he felt were essential to being a successful leader: planning, flexibility and responsibility.

In order to achieve success, it was crucial for my father to have a clear path forward. During his time at Skate Canada and the International Skating Union, he was always prepared and always planning - most of the time years in advance. While planning was important, he also stressed the need to be flexible. Times change, and as we all know, the sport of figure skating can evolve rapidly. A plan must be in place, but the ability to adapt, change and adjust that plan was key to success. Finally, a leader must take responsibility for their actions. People involved with the sport did not always agree with my father and he respected and welcomed other’s opinions, but a leader must not be afraid to make unpopular decisions. They might be unpopular in the moment, but together with planning and flexibility, a strong leader must have one eye on what is best in both the long and short term.

I think these elements of leadership were part of the motivation to establish the David Dore Leadership Fund. Skate Canada is dedicated to recognizing positive leaders who exemplify these same leadership traits at the community, club, section and national level. The Leadership Fund enables a Skate Canada member, coach, official or administrator to further enhance their leadership skills by attending the Skate Canada Ice Summit for a unique educational and networking experience.

Last year, I had the privilege of being involved in the selection of the first two recipients of the David Dore Leadership Fund. Megan Foster is from Brandon, Manitoba, is a coach and Regional Sport Development Officer for Sport Manitoba. Amanda Gryniewski is from Mississauga, Ontario and an official with Skate Ontario.

“I was fortunate to shadow [Skate Canada CEO] Debra Armstrong during the Ice Summit,” Megan said. “It was really neat to see such a strong leader in action during a presentation and within an hour have everyone on the same page and on the same goal.”

As a judge, Amanda enjoyed being mentored by officials with international experience: “During the workshops, I got to present with [International Judge] Sally Rehorick, which was amazing. It was about what officials are doing when they’re not holding a clipboard. Sally gave me the opportunity to speak and I talked about own experiences as a judge and leadership among young people, which I think is very important to our sport.”

On the last day of the 2017 Summit, I was able to meet Megan and Amanda. The excitement over their experiences during their time in Ottawa was palpable. “After spending time with Debra at the Summit,” Megan commented, “it’s almost a little overwhelming to think of how to apply what I’ve learned and what would have the most impact to my community.”

Amanda was already thinking of how to capitalize on her time at the Summit: “I went to one of the workshops taught by a referee and I learned a lot about the rules that I didn’t know even as a skater. I also went to some of the coaching seminars and I got to learn from this different perspective. I hope that when I go back to my club, I can inspire some of the younger kids to get involved with judging as well.”

Megan and Amanda both exemplify planning, flexibility and leadership. After learning about their experiences, perhaps you are a future recipient of the David Dore Leadership Fund? If this sounds like you, we encourage you to apply today to attend the 2018 Summit in Calgary, Alberta.

Returning to that stack of speeches, my father always reminded himself and those he was speaking to of these principles:

“Let not the dream of every young skater remain only as a dream. Savour the friendships and memories - ours is a sport unique in comradeship and moments of greatness. Allow that our involvement always be motivated by positive intents and cooperative action. Let us have pride in our young athletes and recognize the support of volunteers, parents, coaches and administrators. Last but not least, let us not forget that this sport involves to a great extent the young people of this nation, their mental and physical development and well-being, as well as their aspirations and goals.”

To hear more from Amanda and Megan, watch this video where they go into more details about their experience at the Summit. Apply for the David Dore Leadership Fund today at this link.

Paul Dore